Writing center aims to improve writers, not just grades

The writing center is home to the many tutoring programs at K-State. Focusing on any english course needs, students with any major is welcome to come by for help. Rachel Smith, senior in english, helps Muchen Geng, sophomore in business administration, with her reasearch paper. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Students who struggle with writing papers for class might find help in the Writing Center on campus.

Located in the Counseling Services building, adjacent to Hale library, the center has been a program at K-State since 1957. The center is available to all students wanting to get help on school papers, theses, dissertations and those who want a pair of trained eyes on their personal projects.

Cydney Alexis, assistant professor of English and director of the center, said it is a place where any student can come to share his or her writing and get feedback from a third party who is not going to evaluate him or her.

“Writing centers are collaborative spaces,” Alexis said. “Writing tutors help writers to strengthen or deepen their understanding of the writing process.”

A typical session is a one-on-one meeting with a student tutor. The student reads his or her paper and the tutor provides feedback about the paper as a whole.

“The focus is on the tutor working with the student and the two of them together helping improve the paper and the person long-term,” Sierra Hale, graduate student in English and writing tutor, said. “We aren’t concerned with making sure all of the grammar is correct in the paper and you get an A.”

The center intends to help students learn about the writing process and become an overall strong writer. Its research proves that if the writing process is improved, the student can repeat it to ensure future success.

“Slowly (tutees) come to understand their own writing process… maybe even enjoy writing… rather than (as) necessary evil,” Hale said.

Alexis is new to both the center and K-state faculty this year, but has extensive training under her belt.

“I was trained pretty intensively,” Alexis said. “I worked for seven years at Wisconsin-Madison as a tutor and assistant directed the writing fellows program and first year writers program.”

The director of the center is not the only one who has undergone intensive training. According to Alexis, Writing Center practices are “unique and supported by qualitative and quantitative research and theory that’s been developed for more than a century.”

“Writing tutors are very extensively trained,” said Alexis. “Everything that we do at the center has research supporting it.”

The undergraduate and graduate tutors have undergone hours of training before starting on their own.

“First you have to take the course English 500 and observe a high quantity of sessions,” Alexis said. “You undergo an apprenticeship which includes co-tutoring then practicing by leading your own session. We have monthly staff meetings and two orientations a term, and our tutors have a professional development responsibility each term.”

In addition to the training, the tutors continue to research, write and present at national conferences to stay updated. Hale said the training has helped her as much, if not more, than she has helped others.

“My own writing has improved dramatically and my awareness of the writing process,” Hale said. “I learned a lot about writing.”

Just as Hale and the other tutors help the students learn about writing, the tutors are learning about all sorts of things from the tutees.

“I learned a lot about other topics,” Hale said. “(The) history of math, psychology, things that I have no idea about. I get to hear all of this information from different disciplines… not just English.”

Abdulaziz Alreshoud, junior in biology, uses the services offered by the center frequently and said it’s a helpful place for all. Alreshoud has received help on various projects including, English, geography, psychology, personal statements and most recently a video project.

“I think that it doesn’t matter what class you’re taking,” he said. “Whatever involves writing you can guarantee you are going to be helped.”

The center is open to all, regardless of their major. The center is a place for all writers, not just those who think they need help. Alexis said it’s important that every writer has a reader.

“We want to see the strong writers and the ones who don’t identify as writers, and we also serve every discipline on campus,” Alexis said. “We love English majors but we’re here to work with physics majors, history majors … (and) chemical engineers.”

A majority of the funding to the center comes through funding from the Student-Centered Tuition Enhancement program, which funds other programs on campus like K-State First, Wildcat Watch and the Diversity Programming Council.

Alexis and her staff at the center said they want everyone to feel comfortable enough to bring in their writing. So, when working on a paper or need help brainstorming, the center is a place for everyone. The Writing Center is located in 122D on the main floor of the English and Counseling Services building. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and Sunday is available for walk-ins at Hale from 6-9 p.m.

My name is Jamie Teixeira and I am a senior English and journalism with a minor in Leadership. I am the president of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, a tutor at the K-State Writing Center,and a member of the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble. My future plans are to become an editor or publisher of children's literature. Outside of school I love to read and cuddle with my kitten, Bert.